Sarah’s story #EyeAmAware
- Sarah found out about her daughters eye health by chance
- She wants to raise awareness about children and eye health
Left with unanswered questions after her children visited the local opticians, Sarah Marston, 48, a checkout operator from Leeds was left feeling saddened after she found out by chance that her daughter Rebekah, who was eight at the time, was diagnosed with sever amblyopia (lazy eye).
In 2005, Sarah took her son Thomas to get his eyes tested because he had a squint (strabismus) in both of his eyes. He then had corrective surgery and visited the hospital for a check-up following the procedure to ensure the operation had worked and the muscles in his eyes were fixed.
Being a typical toddler, Thomas did not always want to do as he was told, and eventually became bored of playing eye games at the hospital. His older sister, eight-year-old Rebekah, did some of the tests to show her brother how easy they were to do. It was found that Rebekah could not read the small print and was recommended to get her eyes tested at the opticians.
Left feeling rather confused, Sarah said: “We had never had reason to get her eyes tested as we had never thought she had issues with her eyes. Her primary school had done basic health checks including eyesight and hearing when she was in key stage 1.”
After Rebekah’s test, it was found that she had a sever lazy eye. Sarah had never picked up on this because Rebekah’s other eye had always compensated.
Sarah said: “The school eye test had not tested each eye individually.
“We didn’t know that everyone should get their kids eyes tested before they’re eight as after that they can’t do a lot to change the damage that has been done. My daughter will have to wear glasses forever.”
Although Rebekah, now 20, was young when she discovered she needed glasses, it was not until later she found how much of an impact it had on her life.
Sarah said: “Rebekah really wanted a career in the navy, but because her left lazy eye is quite bad she can’t get the job she wanted. She then had to rethink her career options.
“Both of my children still wear glasses and probably will wear them for life.”
Rebekah is currently a chef after her dream of joining the navy was shattered.
Sarah was left stumped because the issue she had was understanding how it is possible to test children’s eyes when they can’t read. The local opticians Sarah attended could not facilitate this.
It is now encouraged by the NHS to get your child’s eyes tested every two years, the same as adults, from the age of five.
According to the NHS website, children do not need to be able to read or speak to have their sight tested. Children’s sight tests are free and are offered from birth.
They are particularly important because eye problems are often much easier to treat if detected while a child’s vision is still developing.
All children have the right to a free eye test. Please visit the NHS website for more information about eye tests for children.
Please sign the #EyeAmAware campaign petition by clicking here.